With thanks to our funding sources

Heat Transfer Enhancement using Self-Propelled Nanoparticles (NSF EAGER)

Collaborator: Prof. Pawel Keblinski, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Cooling is a critical component of many technologies that make the world run, such as computer chips, data centers, light-emitting diodes, heat exchangers, and many more. However, the performance of these technologies is fundamentally limited by the thermal diffusivity of the coolants. We are developing the first “active heat transfer fluids” (AHTF), consisting of self-propelled nanoparticles that induce “micro-stirring,” which causes the temperature gradient to become shallower for the same heat flux (left). This is equivalent to an enhancement in the effective thermal conductivity of the fluid by over 10% compared to the liquid alone. We are now actively exploring the enhancements in convective heat transfer coefficient induced by self-propelled particles, as well as advantageous reductions in suspension viscosity resulting from the particles’ motion. These enhancements could enable coolants with dramatic heat flux enhancements while simultaneously requiring little or zero pumping power.

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (CHRB)

Collaborator: Prof. Geraldine Grant, George Mason University

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a deadly lung disease with unknown cause and few treatment options. IPF is characterized by uncontrolled formation of scar tissue in the lungs, which progresses relentlessly until breathing is impossible. IPF claims as many lives per year in the U.S. (~40,000) as breast cancer. We are creating a patient-derived hydrogel platform to study the effects of tissue stiffness and viscoelasticity on IPF progression. We are also leveraging this platform to test the efficacy of self-propelled nanoparticles to penetrate the thick fibrotic tissue near a disease site and deliver medications precisely where they will have the greatest therapeutic effect. We hypothesize that this advance will enable lower doses of antifibrotic medication to achieve a therapeutic outcome, while at the same time decreasing side effects.